Borat Subsequent Moviefilm arrived like a thief in the night, and boy, has it caused a stir. The movie's release was a welcome surprise to 2020 that has been largely absent of major movies, but the sequel has nonetheless raised a lot of questions with its arrival.
I loved Borat Subsequent Moviefilm from start to finish, but that didn't mean my viewing was completely devoid of criticisms or burning questions after viewing. Here are some of the thoughts I had while watching, and things I'd love an answer to after watching this wild ride on Amazon Prime Video. Needless to say that SPOILERS are ahead.
How Is Sacha Baron Cohen Able To Commit So Strongly To Characters?
I say it every time I watch a Sacha Baron Cohen film, and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm was no exception. It is nothing short of incredible that he is able to go into the tensest of situations in character and push himself to create more chaos with said character. Cohen continually pushes the envelope with his characters, even taking things to the level beyond where most rational people would feel comfortable.
For example, look at the scene where Borat takes his daughter to a pro-life facility to get an abortion. That alone is a cringe-inducing situation, knowing you're going to be asking for an abortion to someone who is against one. Sacha Baron Cohen then takes it a step further by implying that he was the one who impregnated his daughter, and I'm having trouble watching the scene because of how uncomfortable I feel! I can't give him or Maria Bakalova enough credit for doing these scenes with a straight face, knowing there's no way I could ever do that.
How Did Borat Have A Daughter?
Tutar is introduced as Borat's daughter in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, and she's essentially living in an animal pen behind his house. The two forge a bond as the movie continues, but the film breezes right past the fact that at no point in the first Borat was it ever revealed that he had a daughter named Tutar. Additionally, Borat's wife Oksana died after she was attacked by a bear in the first film, so the idea she may have given birth while he was gone feels unlikely.
Of course, it could be that women were so under-appreciated in the first Borat movie that Tutar wasn't considered important enough to be mentioned in the introduction. Whatever the reason may be, I do wish Borat 2 would've done a better job at explaining her existence, if only to keep me from wondering about it throughout the sequel. I know the plotlines in this movie are mostly a vehicle to the next in-public prank, but I just wish they would've taken a little more care in explaining Tutar's origins because she is such a great character.
What Happened To Luenell?
For those who didn't re-watch the original Borat movie before the sequel, you may have forgotten that Borat got re-married at the end of the film to a black woman named Luenell. This is referenced briefly in the sequel when Borat asks a woman if she would become his "second" black wife, but at no other point in the movie do we get to know where Luenell is and what she's been up to.
What we do know is that comedian Luenell Campbell was contacted to appear in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, but the plans for her reprisal had been cut from the movie. While not explicitly confirmed, it's believed that her union rules and COVID-19 protocols made the logistics in her appearance too difficult to film in the timeframe allotted to make this movie happen. Even so, her character was another one I would've loved an update on, if only so we could have a send-off for one of the original movie's best characters.
Could The Borat Franchise Survive Through Tutar?
One thing I appreciate that Borat Subsequent Moviefilm did not shy away from was the fact that Americans still remember the first Borat movie. Sacha Baron Cohen's character is still so prolific 14 years later that he had to portray Borat disguised as other characters to have a chance at not being recognized by the people on the streets. Suffice to say after the controversy of this film that it'll be a long time before people forget Borat again, and as Sacha Baron Cohen progresses in age, his time in the role could be done.
That said, I do see hope in the franchise in actress Maria Bakalova, who shined in her role as Tutar. If Sacha Baron Cohen would allow it and if Bakalova was willing, I think she's a relatively fresh face that could pull off some stunts similar to how Baron Cohen did, in the beginning, to more effectively fool the general public and make the third potential entry in this franchise happen. Obviously this second film ends in a way that a third movie is not absolutely necessary, but it's a shame to believe a franchise that offers such a unique look at American life could be at an end with this movie.
Why Did Borat's Neighbor Take Everything?
I was disgusted to see Borat's asshole neighbor get ahead of him in life, going so far as to take custody of his children while Borat was sentenced to hard labor. That guy was basically the worst, though I will admit there were few better ways to show just how far the journalist had fallen in status in his country. He was at his lowest point, and that neighbor just swooped in and took what was left!
My question though is, why? I can't see the value in his neighbor adopting Borat's 3 sons and 17 grandchildren given the immense shame he put on the family name. In fact, it may have been more of a burden that he did, though perhaps he only took it on knowing it would enrage Borat if he ever found it. It's a long con to play for someone who may have never seen the payoff considering Borat's punishment, but I guess it was all worth it since he saw it pay off in the end.
What's Next For Maria Bakalova?
In case I haven't said it enough during this, I cannot stress enough how great this movie was for Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova. She's the standout talent in this movie for sure, and I think in general it was a very strong acting performance I'd like to see again in the near future.
As for what her prospects are, I'm unsure, though I do hope whatever comes next is not necessarily restricted to the world of comedy. It's not often we see a foreign actor leave such a strong imprint on pop culture in America, especially in 2020. The future seems bright for Maria Bakalova, so let's hope that this year is much more positive for her than it has been for others.
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